So this happened and no one really foresaw it. Quickly after losing to Arizona Steve Alford got to campaigning and evidently it worked. An eleven seed suggests they were pretty squarely in the dance according to the committee who said the Bruins passed the “eye test.” I get it. I also get that they’ve played absolutely no one over their final five games suggesting that the committee believes their losing effort to Arizona was eye pleasing enough. This selection has no one happy but you know what? #BackThePac. Because, quite frankly, the Bruins have talented enough players to be tournament disruptive.
If the Ducks are going to rattle off late season wins for the second consecutive year, why not just carry on the seasonal parallels? That, of course, would mean they’d carry on into the second round and give Wisconsin one helluva run for their money? The Ducks held as large as a 14-point lead in that one. But let’s not be revisionist. Now is the time for Joseph Young to bid us adieu with his continued performances. To wow us and impress us and gain some slow motion time during One Shining Moment. I’m not saying Oregon is going to win the tournament, but rather that Young is the kind of player that makes plays you dogpile for.
The Wildcats are appropriately seeded as a #2. You can’t lose to the 100th, 117th, and 70th KenPom rated teams (104, 131, and 102 by RPI) while the rest of the elites are dropping games like “Duke,” “Georgetown,” or “no-losses-whatsoever.” It’s just how it goes. Besides, the West is what was most important to this group. But let’s also not ignor the fact that since getting that crap out of their system, the Wildcats have destroyed teams. Obliterated. They enter this tournament hotter than any summer-in-Tucson analogy I could come up with. Gander this chart summarizing each of the top eight seeds in their last eleven games:
So they’re not the hottest team in the country and have slumped to the point that my March 2014 prediction of the Utes being a four-seed was narrowly missed. I’ve been further off on other predictions – I see you 2015 Buffs – so I won’t soon lose any sleep over this. What I might lose some sleep over is how tough these Utes really are. There’s a je ne sias quoi that I’m going to try to sais quoi: They don’t have it. Whatever that gene is that allows you to flush goldfish down the toilet or take the last piece of cake at not your birthday party or win a close basketball game, that seems to be missing for the Utes. They’re just 4-11 the last two years in games decided by 6 points or fewer. Sometimes in a tournament you’ve got to be able to do that. Can the Utes? My hope is that the imminent finality of these fantastic two years instills some of that DGAF in Delon Wright. He’s too good to play just one more time for us.
The Pac-12 tournament isn’t so much an exercise in basketball competition (that was great) as it is an event. A destination for hoopniks to congregate in a city that allows them to stay up past their bedtimes and participate in all manner of fandom. I watched eleven basketball games. Some of them were close and others were sharpied at the second media timeout. I met Ken Pomeroy and completely froze in the moment. I wish I’d asked if he could tell when exactly his numbers were predictably significant. After all, the college basketball season is only about 30 games long. That’s brief. Is that sample size significant to predicting a team’s performance? Similarly it’s been just three tournaments in Las Vegas. What do we really know about it? Is the fun we’ve had the shiny newness? The experiential equivalent of Washington being ranked 13th in the nation. It’s a small sample size and very few would be quick to celebrate the tournament’s Los Angeles iteration. Continue reading
We knew the games were going to be good. It’s championship time and this was the semifinals. But that? Stanley’s three. Kevon’s three. Both Brandon’s games. Norman’s night. Delon and then Joseph. Let’s have a championship.
Day 3: Continue reading
The second day of Pac-12 hoops was chalk. The day following the near advancement of the 12, 11, and 10 seeds we saw – pretty definitively – the 1, 2, 3, and 4 seeds move to the semis. I suppose that makes sense. The bad teams got beat by the good teams and one of the really good teams brought a whole lotta friends.
Day 2: Continue reading
We were a three pointer by a struggling if not disinterested first teamer from having the 10, 11, and 12 seeds advance. That’s contrary to the norm. The least tightly contested game featured the two most closely ranked teams. That’s contrary to the norm. Dan Kingma had nine points. That’s contrary to the norm. Of course we didn’t come to Vegas expecting chalk or things to go precisely according to plan (although I did remember to bring my ID to the airport for this trip. Big win.).
So what was Day 1 like? Maybe we call it a practice run? The MGM Grand Arena wasn’t quite bubbling to the top but – and this needs to be said – the PA guy called 4 games with unwavering enthusiasm. And he’ll be back at it again for Day 2. As for the basketball?
We have The Pac-12 Pundit, Zack Rosenblatt, back on the Pod to monitor the bubble, dole out awards, knock on given awards, and discuss VEGAS VEGAS VEGAS. Let me tell you – this is a whole lot of Pod. There’s Wildcat love, Dawkins hate, Duck and Dana love, Bruin indifference, and some Tinkle adoration. We agree, disagree, laugh, and I don’t think anyone cried. Good season, we March on.
WANE (and on SoundCloud):